Thursday, November 3, 2011
Karin Slaughter was already a big name in the world of crime fiction novels with her high-acclaimed and equally popular Grant County Series. But with Triptych, set in Atlanta, Georgia, she comes back home, where she grew up.
The story of the novel is an analogy of the word “Triptych” (also the title) which actually means the work of art divided into three sections or three carved panels hinged together to depict relation between the three of them. Similarly in the novel, there are three parts to the story with one central figure around whom the two characters revolve. It is a peculiarly unsettling relationship that would come to its dreadful realisation when the novel reaches its evocative ending.
As of 2006, Michael Ormewood, an experienced officer, has been charged to investigate the shocking and brutal murder of a young girl – with her tongue missing - in one of the notorious parts of the city. He is trying to put together the scattered pieces of the case as there have been similar cases in the last eight months. Ormewood tries to penetrate the case with the help of a Special Agent Will Trent, who hate each other at first sight. Angie Polaski of the Vice Squad is the link between the two, who had shared relationships at different stages of her life with both men.
The novel opens with a newspaper report, dated 1985, when a fifteen year old girl – Mary Alice Finney – was found murdered in her room and a fellow student of her being arrested for it. After twenty one years, the convict has now been released, who had an equally painful time while serving his term in the jail.
While the case hangs in the balance, Ormewood's life continues to have its ebb and flow with a hanging by thread marriage, impaired son and an illicit relationship with a young next door neighbour. On the other side, there is Will Trent, an orphan, who is an excellent detective but with his shortfalls of being dyslexic and a violent upbringing that bears the mark on his body and soul, that hampers his social skills. In between both of them, there is Angie Polaski who, like Trent, is an orphan and, like Trent, had a difficult upbringing. However, she is the one who connects Ormewood and Trent due to different reasons.
Are the events of 1985 and 2006 linked? Ormewood seems to be convinced, while Trent and Polaski have their doubts. The story is a race against unspecified time as the detectives try to hunt down the killer before he strikes again. But there is more to it than meets the eye. In an startling twist, all the pieces fall in their place, bringing out the fact how far the moral and social corruption goes.
Like some novels of Slaughter, this slips away into different time frames to another, keeping the readers totally aware of what has happened, what is happening and what may happen. Slaughter makes every character of hers engrossing with a detailed and careful description of their traits and personality. However dark and painful the character’s plight may be, she has a way of making her readers’ feel for the damaged souls that emerge as heroes, or villains, of the tale.